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3 IEC workers sentenced to jail in Paktia trial

3 IEC workers sentenced to jail in Paktia trial

Apr 24, 2019 - 18:59

GARDEZ (Pajhwok): Three workers of the Independent Election Commission (IECinfo-icon) were sentenced on Wednesday from one to two years in jail over electoral fraud in southeastern Paktia province.

The three were handed down the jail sentences during in open trial in Gardez, the provincial capital. The convicts included IEC manager for Zazai Aryub district and two other workers of the commission.

The prosecutor in the case, Abdullah Safi, said a number of influential individuals of Shukhel tribe in Zazai Aryub district had complained that the district IEC manager and the two other election workers broke the security locks of ballot boxes and stuffed them with fake votes on the Election Day.

He said the ballot boxes were shifted by the convicts from their original place to a private house before being stuffed.

“Some elders of Shukhel tribe claim the security locks of the ballot boxes of Kharloti and Hassan Algada polling sites were broken by a son of Zazai Aryub voter registration manager, Qabil Mahmod, and then stuffed with fake votes,” he said.

Safi added a three-member delegation tasked with investigating the issue found two individuals Zafar Khan and Mohammad Wali involved in stuffing the ballot boxes with 384 fake votes in the two polling sites.

However, Sayed Rahman, defense lawyer of Qabil Mahmod, called the allegations as incorrect and said those who had thumb impressions as witnesses on the letter were misguided into signing a letter for a retaining wall project.

“These people were told they would get a project for a retaining wall if they sign the letter, so all the thumb impressions were fake in the complaint letter,” he said.

On the other hand, the convicts rejected the allegations against them. Qabil Mahmod, the IEC manager for Zazai Aryub district, said he shifted the ballot boxes to different areas due to insecurity and did so in coordination with the provincial IEC office and the governor’s house.

“The boxes were unlocked by strongmen in a house, they did not let my officers watch over the boxes and locked them in a room, then a Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon candidate’s brothers supported by the strongmen stuffed the ballot boxes, their pictures are available,” he said.

However, Zafar Khan, who was in charge for Hassan Alkada poling site, said that the digits of the ballot boxes locks were changed the next day of the election.

“We handed over the ballot boxes to our manager, when we tried to check them the next morning, but we could not unlock them with the digits we were using previously,” he said.

Paktia appellate court, after hearing arguments from both sides, sentenced the accused individuals from one to two years in jail over rigging the election.

Attaullah Fekri, head of Paktia appellate courts, while announcing the verdict, said, “The court sentences Qabil Mahmod to two years of imprisonment and Mohammad Wali and Zafar Khan to one year of imprisonment for doctoring the election.”

This comes as the Wolesi Jirga elections results of Paktia are yet to be announced.



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